It’s the new year, which means some of us are entering into 2020 with a few resolutions. Perhaps we want to exercise more, eat healthier, or erode certain bad habits. Regardless of your level of resolve, one resolution that everyone can make is to unplug a bit more from your work life and dedicate more time to your hobbies. We understand the expression “get a hobby” can sound a little backhanded, but there’s a lot of research out there promoting hobbies as a path to greater productivity (especially if that hobby is unrelated to your line of work). Allow us to elaborate.
Creativity To Unwind
In today’s world, much of our lives center around our career. For a lot us, it’s not uncommon to work more than 40 hours a week, contributing to higher stress levels. One way to combat this is by tapping into our creativity, and there’s a growing body of evidence that shows making art reduces stress levels. You might be saying to yourself “I’m not artist!” We hear you loud and clear. But the studies indicate that you don’t need prior experience to benefit from unleashing your inner artist whether painting, drawing, writing or performing slam poetry.
Even if art isn’t your thing, just take some time to nurture your imagination and get away from the constant noise and notifications of your devices. Unwind with a good book, take up gardening, try a coloring book or do a crossword puzzle. Get your creativity flowing by stimulating your mind and imagination and decrease your stress levels.
Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or maybe you sometimes feel like you spent way too much time completing certain tasks at work. This may sound counter-intuitive, but evidence suggest that employees who make space for their hobbies are in fact better at workplace time management.
When we fill our leisure time with engaging activities (no, a Netflix binge doesn’t count), we allow our minds to recoup. We are more efficient when we’re on the job because we spend our free time stimulating our minds, not numbing them.
Additionally, people who fill their leisure time with stimulating activities have a better sense of how long tasks take to finish. Thus, they are more effective at prioritizing and generally can have a quicker turnaround time than those who don’t engage their interests.
Increased Energy & Productivity at the Office
We all know that physical exercise is essential to our health, but did you know that exercising on a regular basis makes us sharper mentally too? Research shows that people who maintain regular physical activity have more brain cells than those who don’t and have a higher productive capacity. While literally expanding your brain via exercise may take a long time, physical activity has a near instant positive impact on your energy and motivation levels, which can help you at the office when that midday fatigue begins to creep in.
If the gym’s not for you, you’re not alone! Find an activity that stimulates you both physically and mentally. Consider a hobby like cycling, rock climbing or even just walking your dog for 45 minutes each day.
Value Outside of Work
Having multi-dimensional lives help us feel more fulfilled. Between commuting and long hours, we can very easily get bogged down in our daily work lives—seemingly not having room for much else. Of course, we don’t want people to take on more than they can but having some sort of hobby or activity to engage of outside of the office can drastically improve our sense of well-being. Hobbies can break up the routine of the 40-hour work week by expanding your social networks too. Employees today, especially younger ones, value work/life balance and some companies are beginning to take a more active role in facilitating this need.
Hobbies are limitless, so don’t be afraid to do a bit of experimenting to find something that you like. The point is finding something outside of your line of work that you thoroughly enjoy because it can improve your relationship to that work. Whether it’s a creative pursuit, exercising, or a social organization that gets you out of the house, adding more texture to our lives is key to building a healthy relationship with our careers.